Two clubs that have made huge strides towards achieving Premier League safety of late come together to fight for three more priceless points at the Vitality Stadium, as Bournemouth take on Swansea City.
Although they were up against a Newcastle United side that offered very little in opposition, Bournemouth’s performance in their 3-1 win on Tyneside was one of a comfortable, established top-flight outfit. Exuding confidence, Eddie Howe’s men produced a show of fine free-flowing football that was backed up by a cutting edge as Josh King looked dangerous throughout, while Max Gradel was a constant threat on the left thanks to his technique and unpredictablity.
The Ivorian winger already seems to be making up for lost time having missed much of this season through injury following his big-money move to the club last summer. He looks set to be one of the players to watch between now and the end of the season as the Cherries make their march towards safety, which – with 35 points already on the board – looks inevitable. Just one more victory should be enough to end any remaining anxiety, and achieving back-to-back home successes here would be most welcome.
Swansea are getting the job done in more workmanlike fashion, but have been equally effective with the solid defending of Federico Fernandez and Ashley Williams at the back being well complemented by the quality in the final third provided by the in-form Gylfi Sigurdsson. A fifth goal in six Premier League outings for the talented midfielder in the crucial match at home to Norwich City last weekend has catapulted the Swans into a position of relative comfort, some nine points clear of the drop zone.
It has often been the Swans who have been noted for their silky style of football, but they have been forced to graft a little more recently due to the predicament they found themselves in, so this one is likely to represent another encounter where they focus primarily on being difficult to beat. Even from his hospital bed, Francesco Guidolin has proved so far to be an astute managerial appointment, while the same could be said about the January loan signing of Leroy Fer, who has been influential in midfield.
Junior Stanislas is still missing for a Bournemouth side that is also likely to be without midfielder Harry Arter due to an Achilles injury.
Despite being discharged from hospital and resuming media duties, Guidolin will not be on the touchline for Swansea. He will again pick the team, and could give a recall to winger Jefferson Montero.